Introduction: How to Quit Your Job
One of the inevitable parts of career development is leaving a job. Now, in my life, I have been fired, laid off, and voluntarily left a post. All endings were experiences I am grateful for, each character building in its own way.
Before we go too much further, this is *not* a guide on why you should quit your job, this instructable intends to pick up on the steps *after* you've made the decision to leave, and how to go about notifying people and making a graceful exit.
This also intends to be a guide for folks who may have just gotten fired or laid off. It's important to follow the rules that your company may have set for exiting, but you may also be able to take advantage of a few perks or benefits before your final day.
Step 1: Looking at Your Path
The first step is to take a look back at the development and skills you've learned while at your job. Write it all down. By putting pen to paper, it causes us to be more meditative and the act of writing each skill out enforces positive attitude towards growth you're about to do. Consider the reasons you're not a fit for your position anymore, what is missing that you want to be doing? Maybe you're feeling listless and need some help finding direction, that's OK! There are so many ways you can get help to look at the big picture of your career path. Heck, if you've been laid off from a big company, your HR department may even grant you access to a job coach.
This brings us to coaches, don't under-estimate the power of a second set of eyes on your career trajectory! Albeit it may feel tough to shell out the fee for a coaching session when you find yourself on a budget, but these are folks who are trained to ask the right questions to help you understand what may be a good fit for your skills and goals and show you where your blind spots may be.
What if you discover you want to work for yourself, turning your hobby or passion into a career? If you're in the US, the IRS.gov website lays out a framework to get you started as self-employed or as a small business. You can also start by looking into local small business rules on your city's website. You may be eligible for a special business permit or tax deduction depending on the field of work you're heading into. If you get overwhelmed, ask for outside help! It's literally an accountant's job to help business people sort out the money side of running a business.
If while you're looking at your path, you decide that you need some education to level up, consider the kind of course load you're ready to take on. You don't always have to have a 4-year degree to get the next job you may want. There are endless certification programs, short-term tech trainings, and skill-boosting workshops out there. I've found a lot of these via Facebook groups, asking people already in the field I want to be in where they received their training.
Step 2: Create a Timeline
Before you tell your manager that you're leaving, it's important to investigate company policies about resigning. This info is usually included in your hiring paperwork. If you work for a small company such documentation may not exist, so you may have to work with your manager to plan the best way to exit which works for you within an agreed-upon time frame.
Things to consider:
Your wellness comes first
If you are currently employed with benefits, max out your benefits. Especially if you live in the US.
My last weeks of employment coincided with a visit to all of my health practitioners to let them know my insurance benefits may be changing and making the most of my current benefits package before transitioning to a new carrier.
Look at your day-to-day
Understand that you're going to have to hand over your workload to your colleagues, or your replacement. Begin to assess what your day-to-day workload is and estimate how long it will take to bring everyone up to speed.
Transitioning to a new job
If you're leaving your job because you've found a new job, you may have already agreed upon a start date at that new post. The factor that into your timeline construction, and ideally leave at least a week between jobs to give your mind the opportunity to do some context switching. This is mentally taxing stuff! Respect your body and brain, it's gotten you this far!
Step 3: Giving (or Getting) Notice
Telling your employer that you're leaving can be stress-inducing experiencing, you're basically preparing to break up with someone....or at least your paycheck.
Prepare yourself for an emotional shift adrenaline response. Prepare an agenda just like you would for any other meeting. Be polite when delivering the news and express gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside your team, don't express anger or malice - remember, you may need this person to write you a referral in the future.
If you're receiving some tough news about getting laid off, it's important to not get outwardly upset. Jobs come and go, and even if you're being asked to leave, it's almost never personal, it's business. If someone was out to critique your character or your behavior, especially in a professional setting, you would be the first to know about it. Keep calm and ask if there is a severance plan, even if there isn't - to quote hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
Step 4: Handing Off Work
In the previous step where you established a timeline where you took a look at your day-to-day tasks. If you're in an office, it's advised that you take the time to write detailed instructions on how to accomplish each task that you're leaving.
If an idea seems complicated, make screenshots or diagrams. Be sensitive be thoughtful. Imagine if you were learning what you've been doing for the first time - how would you want it explained?
These instructions on how to do your job may also be used to help write your job description for a future job post and ensures a transparent handoff.
Step 5: Exit Checklist
Your company may have issued a computer, a phone, or other tech devices during your employment - including your security badge to get in the building. Your company's HR department or Technology team will have a guide on how to return or recycle all devices, and it's important to get those back in a timely manner.
You may be asked to fill out an exit survey. Take time with your responses, and be honest. If you had a glowing time at your company, let them know where they are excelling. If you know some facets of your work/life balance could use a boost, deliver critique in polite complete sentences but avoid offering solutions.
It seems counter-intuitive, but, look over your hiring paperwork to make sure you've left no stone unturned. Companies spend a lot of time and money developing hiring handbooks that are designed to serve you through your entire term of employment, and even at the end of your employment, it's important to review your company's COBRA health plan (if you're in the US) and make sure you've followed all company policies as you've exited.
If you've been laid off, you may have additional paperwork to file to receive severance and plan your transition to filing unemployment claims.
Step 6: Saying Good Bye
When writing your last email or farewell letter, take this opportunity to express gratitude towards the people you worked with during the time of your employment. You shared a lot of your day-to-day with your colleagues, they've respected your time, it's important to be grateful for that Think, it's not really ideal if you go out in a fit of anger - it's important to maintain relationships for potential future referrals.
At the bottom of your farewell letter, you may want to include links to your social media presence or personal portfolio as a way to keep up with you after you've moved on from the company.
Instructable aside, (#100!!) I'm publishing this tutorial on my last day working for Instructables.com. I have been extremely lucky to work here for the last eight years and create alongside this amazing community of makers and authors. It has been so inspiring to hold the microphone for the people who share their stories on this site.
Big giant thanks to randofo for hiring me right out of college when I responded to an open call for applicants in 2011. The people that I have met and become friends with via this job are truly the most talented inspiring people I have ever come to know. The connections forged via Instructables.com, this shared passion for learning through making, it feeds the spirit with tangible accomplishments and never-ending growth - please keep sharing your stories and projects and learnings on this site, I want to be your friend and cheer your practice on.
As for my next steps, I'm excited about a new adventure as a freelance creative professional, and you'll definitely be seeing my projects in the Instructables recent projects feed. I’m looking forward to championing this community of ambitious learners and makers from the sidelines as a community member, maker, and author.
This is not farewell, but really an 'I'll be back' 🤖 (but, y'know, likely after a month-long vacation 😬)
Have any inspiring stories on how to leave your job? Leave them in the comments! This instructable only gets better every time you leave a tip or ask a question.